A Not-So-Good Shooting Starr

A Not-So-Good Shooting Starr
Henry Starr, a.k.a. the “Cherokee Bad Boy,” led a legendary life of crime beginning in the 1890s and extending to the early 1920s. He also wrote an autobiography and starred in a film based on his writings.

Born in Indian Territory near what would later become Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, on December 2, 1873, Henry Starr was a horse thief, a train robber, a bank robber, and a convicted murderer. Interestingly, he wrote an autobiography and also starred in the silent film that was made from his memoirs.

Henry Starr was destined to become a criminal. His grandfather, Tom Starr, was known as “the Devil’s own,” and his father, George “Hop” Starr, was a bandit in his own right. Henry’s uncle, Sam Starr, also was an outlaw and was married to the infamous Belle Starr. Henry was part Cherokee and grew up in Indian Territory near the Arkansas border. By age 16, he had been arrested for bringing whiskey into Indian Territory, reportedly in a stolen wagon. He jumped bail and fled the territory.

Approximately three years later, Henry had a more serious confrontation with the law that resulted in him being convicted of murdering U.S. Deputy Marshal Floyd Wilson on December 13, 1892. As the story goes, Wilson tracked down Henry after Henry and his partners in crime had robbed several stores and train stations. Spotting each other at almost the same moment, Henry dropped from his saddle while Wilson remained mounted. Wilson ordered Henry to surrender, but Henry just “walked away.” Wilson then shouted that he had a warrant for Henry’s arrest and rode closer to him, stopping some 25 feet from him. Wilson dismounted, raised his rifle, and fired a warning shot over Henry’s head.

Henry returned fire, and a gunfight ensued. Wilson was hit and fell to the ground. When Wilson tried to load a fresh cartridge into his rifle, the gun jammed, so he threw it aside and reached for his revolver.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/shootingtimes/content/photos/Not-So-Good-Starr-1.jpg

Henry fired two more shots. As Wilson lay there, Henry walked over to him and fired one more shot into his chest.


Henry continued his crime spree but was eventually apprehended in 1893 and tried for murder and highway robbery. During the trial, Henry claimed to not know Wilson was a U.S. Marshal and that Wilson had opened fire on him without provocation. Henry was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. His conviction was overturned twice. The third trial resulted in a conviction for the lesser charge of manslaughter, and while incarcerated, Henry famously helped thwart a prison escape. For his heroics, Henry received a pardon from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.


After his release from prison in 1903, Henry once again put together a gang of thugs and terrorized and robbed throughout northwest Arkansas. He was imprisoned again in 1908. He used this time in prison to write his autobiography (Thrilling Events: Life of Henry Starr) and study law. He was set free by the state governor in 1913.

Soon he had committed a series of bank robberies, including two on the same day. Eventually, he was caught again and sentenced to 25 years in the state penitentiary. Amazingly, he was paroled after just four years.

Henry got into the moviemaking business (supposedly working on four silent films) and even portrayed himself in the 1919 silent film A Debtor to the Law, which was based on his autobiography.


But Henry just couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow. His end came in 1921 while attempting to rob the People’s State Bank in Harrison, Arkansas. Henry and his gang arrived at the bank in a Nash motorcar, and during the robbery, retired bank president W.J. Meyers, who happened to be in the bank at the time, shot Henry in the back with a .38-40 Winchester Model 1873. Henry went down immediately, was apprehended, and died four days later on February 22, 1921. The rest of his gang fled in the automobile.

Henry Starr was a legend. He was both an ideal prisoner when incarcerated (as evidenced by his repeated pardons and paroles) and the consummate bank robber when he was out, having robbed more banks than the James–Younger gang and the Doolin–Dalton gang.

Recommended for You

Industry

FNH USA Announces 5th Annual FNH USA Midwest 3-Gun Championships

Shooting Times Staff - September 23, 2010

The FNH USA Midwest 3-Gun Championships kicks off at 8 am on Friday, May 21.

Ammo

Five Great .270 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - May 28, 2019

Considering how popular the .270 Winchester has become, it's a great mystery why more...

Ammo

Danger Tamed: Hornady DGX Bonded Hunting Ammo

Joseph von Benedikt - May 23, 2019

A half-century in the making, the new DGX Bonded is Hornady's best-ever dangerous-game bullet.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

James Tarr runs through the 3-Second Headshot drill.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Accessories

Shooting Times Father's Day 2019 Gift Guide

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 07, 2019

Shooting Times editor Joel Hutchcroft provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day...

Handguns

Review: Smith & Wesson Model 19 Classic Revolver

Joel J. Hutchcroft - March 08, 2019

The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is back in production after being on ice for almost two decades.

Ammo

Get the Most Out of the .30-06

Joseph von Benedikt - April 01, 2019

Cutting-edge projectiles provide unprecedented performance in the venerable old workhorse, the...

See More Stories

More Handguns

Handguns

32 New Handguns for 2019

Joel J. Hutchcroft - July 01, 2019

Pistoleros can rejoice with new offerings from Ruger, Glock, Sig Sauer, Kimber and more.

Handguns

Review: Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style .45 ACP

Sam Wolfenberger - June 06, 2019

Ruger is the latest to add the Officer-Style 1911 to their handgun lineup.

Handguns

Review: White Nitride CZ-USA P-10 C FDE

Joel J. Hutchcroft - February 27, 2019

CZ-USA's rugged P-10 C striker-fired auto pistol now comes with an FDE frame and a White...

See More Handguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×